News Digest — 8/9/22

IDF Eliminates Head Of Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades In Nablus

Israeli counterterrorism forces operating in Nablus in the early hours of Tuesday morning (9th) eliminated Ibrahim Nabulsi, head of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. 

Nabulsi, who was responsible for dozens of shootings on Israeli troops and Jewish worshipers at Joseph’s Tomb, had twice before escaped the IDF.

Counterterrorism forces surrounded his home in the PA city in the early morning hours, seeking to arrest him, as Nabulsi was barricaded inside with dozens of other gunmen.  The troops called on Nabulsi and his men to surrender but they refused, and a clash immediately erupted.

Palestinian media reported that Nabulsi and two others were killed with 30 injured.  There were no injuries among the Israeli troops.  Once the situation was contained, IDF troops entered the house, where they found what was described as a “sizable cache of weapons and explosives.”  

Nabulsi’s prior narrow escapes had made him into a Palestinian social media hero, despite the fact that both times he was not the intended target of those raids.

Shortly before he was eliminated, Nabulsi posted a recording on social media saying, “Pray for me, I’m going to die as a shaid [martyr].  Do not abandon your weapons.”



Lapid: Gaza Operation Gave Israel Initiative And Deterrence Back

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Monday (8th) said the latest round of fighting returned the initiative to Israel in the ongoing situation in the Gaza Strip.

“Operation Breaking Dawn brought back the initiative and deterrence.  Whoever tries to harm us will pay with their life,” Lapid said in a televised statement alongside Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

This latest flare-up was sparked over the weekend after Israeli airstrikes hit a senior Islamic Jihad commander following days of simmering cross-border tension.  Israel said its action was a pre-emptive strike against an attack planned by the Iranian-backed group.

In the 66 hours of violence that ensued, Palestinian militants fired more than a 1,000 rockets at Israel, sending residents of southern areas and major cities including Tel Aviv fleeing to shelters.

The sides agreed on a truce through Egyptian mediation that went into effect Sunday night (7th). 

In a triumphant message, the premier claimed that the operation has achieved all its goals and that “Islamic Jihad’s entire military high command” was killed in less than three days of fighting.

Lapid also praised the Israeli home front for showing resolve and responsible conduct in the face of rocket fire, which alongside the Iron Dome missile defense system helped Israel conclude the operation without taking casualties.

Lapid said that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to minimize harm to civilians and regretted any civilian life lost in the fighting but won’t apologize for protecting its people even by force.

At least 44 people, including 15 children, were killed in Gaza during the conflict.  Jerusalem said many of them died as a result of Palestinian rockets falling short and landing in Gaza territory.  It also accused Islamic Jihad of placing rocket launchers and military installations among the civilian population.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel reserves the right to carry out pre-emptive strikes against all threats while sending a stern message to the Jewish state’s arch-foe Iran.

“In the future, if necessary, we will carry out pre-emptive strikes to protect the citizens of Israel, its sovereignty and infrastructure.  This holds true to every front, from Tehran to Khan Yunis,” he said in reference to Iran and Gaza.



Lapid To Palestinians In Gaza: ‘Take Your Future In Your Own Hands’

Gazans can choose peace and economic development, but if they do not, Israel will defend itself, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement summing up Operation Breaking Dawn on Monday (8th), a day after a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad took effect.

“I want to turn to the residents of Gaza and say to them: There is another way,” Lapid said.  “We know how to defend ourselves against anyone who threatens us, but we also know how to give work and a livelihood and dignified life to anyone who wants to live peacefully beside us.  There is another way – another way to live, the way of the Abraham Accords…of regional development and joint projects.  The choice is yours.  Your future depends on you,” he added.

The prime minister’s remarks came as a senior diplomatic source said Jerusalem understood that its actions in the past year to improve the economic situation in Gaza, such as allowing more Palestinian workers into Israel, contributed to stability and to Hamas staying out of the latest round of fighting.  

Gaza remains delicate, the source said, with 2 million residents and a “complex economic situation” that could boil over at any time.



Erdan: ‘Not Condemning The Islamic Jihad Will Only Motivate Them’

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan gave a briefing to the media Monday (8th) prior to the United Nations Security Council emergency session on Operation Breaking Dawn, which ended in a ceasefire Sunday night (7th). 

Ambassador Erdan said that the Israeli Air Force aborted a mission three times during the conflict to avoid civilian casualties and showed evidence of this act of concern for the wellbeing of civilians in Gaza.

“The Israeli Air Force aborted the mission three times, I repeat three times due to the presence of children in the area.  The evidence is right here and again I’ll show you,” he said.

He said that Islamic Jihad caused most of the civilian casualties in Gaza through misfired rockets.

“Prime Minister Golda Meir once said that peace will come when the Palestinians love their children more than they hate us Israelis.  Unfortunately, this past operation proved just how true that statement still is.  The Palestinian Islamic Jihad deliberately fired 1,000 rockets at Israeli civilians, with roughly two-hundred landing inside the Gaza Strip, killing innocent Palestinians and among them young children,” Erdan said.

“While the Islamic Jihad was indiscriminately firing rockets at Israeli civilians over the past couple of days, its leader Ziyad al-Nakhala, was meeting with his Ayatollah puppet-masters in Tehran and getting orders from them….Israel was forced to carry out precise and surgical strikes against the commanders, launch pads, operatives and terror infrastructure of this fanatic organization to prevent them from targeting Israelis.  Israel did so with astounding accuracy and extreme precision, taking precautions scarcely seen in areas of conflict around the world.  Listen to this.  Due to the extensive precautions, there is no other military that has such a low collateral damage rate.”

Ambassador Erdan criticized the members of the Security Council who initiated the meeting.  He said, “How would Norway react to Islamists plotting to fire missiles at civilians in Oslo?  How would Ireland react if Jihadi rockets were raining down on Dublin in an effort to wipe out the ‘infidel?’  I think we all know the answer.”

Erdan said that not condemning Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which launched over 1,000 rockets and mortars at Israel over the two-day conflict, will only motivate them, and urged the UN Security Council to condemn the terror group.

“In today’s (Monday, 8th) Security Council debate, if the council truly wishes to improve the situation in Gaza, there must be one outcome and one outcome only–to condemn the Islamic Jihad for its double war crimes while placing the full accountability for the murder of innocent Palestinians on the shoulder of this radical terror group.  If anything else comes out of this meeting, it will be a profound mistake…Holding a Security Council debate on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and not using the opportunity today to fully condemn them and hold them absolutely accountable for their crimes will only motivate them to continue in their destructive ways,” he said.  “I truly hope the Council does the right thing.”



President Herzog Visited Sderot Following End Of Operation Breaking Dawn

As a follow-up to his Tisha B’Av broadcast in which he said he wanted to wish strength and convey encouragement to the residents of the Gaza Strip periphery communities who are constantly under heavy fire, and whose lives are disrupted by the frequency with which they have to spend time in bomb shelters, President Isaac Herzog on Monday morning (8th) went to Sderot for a meeting with heads of their local municipalities and regional councils.

He was accompanied by President’s Residence Director-General Eyal Shviki, newly appointed Military Secretary Brig.-Gen. Naama Rozen Grinberg and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, who chairs the Jewish Agency’s Fund for Victims of Terrorism.

The group held discussions with Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, Eshkol Regional Council Gadi Yarkoni, Sdot Negev Regional Council head Tamir Idan, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council head Itamar Revivo and Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council head Ofir Libstein.

Herzog told them he came on behalf of the people of Israel to express appreciation from them to all Israeli citizens in the Gaza periphery and in the town of Sderot, in particular.

“Without this region, there would be no State of Israel,” he said.  “You are the gateway to the State of Israel, and you are the wall protecting the State of Israel.”

The events of recent days taught us a great deal, first and foremost about resilience, “about incredible resilience,” he added.

Herzog praised the residents of Sderot and the South in general for the amazing way in which they functioned and credited local authority heads with inspiring such behavior by exercising courage and great emotional resilience.

“I heard you and I saw you and listened to your reassuring messages, which projected confidence and calm,” he said.  He also praised Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and all of Israel’s security and defense institutions, including rescue services, in his kudos.

Herzog noted the significance of psychological therapy and the treatment of PTSD within the framework of lessons learned, which, he said, “will help us to be better prepared for any future eventualities.”  

He added, “I hope and pray that Israel’s citizens will always know calm and security.”